What happens when you put 19 users in a room with their Android devices, Lotus Notes Traveler, a webcast, a few UX designers on the phone and some snacks? Well, it turns out it results in an hour of great feedback, interesting discussion, and fun!
We had a unique opportunity to participate in a Traveler UX discussion with Michelle Cooper and Jessica Peter of the Mobile User Experience team, along with Chris Reckling who manages the mobile UX team across the Lotus products. Jessica is the lead designer for Traveler and Michelle does user research for mobile.
A little background – VCU has been an Android Traveler Beta program participant. As I’ve posted before – our users LOVE Traveler. We continue to see steady growth in Traveler usage since implementing both for the Apple iOS and Android-based devices.
So when asked if we could pull together a group of users to participate in a usability webcast, we jumped at the opportunity. We sent out an email to all our Android users. And we had 24 users RSVP for the event, with a number responding saying that they wished they could attend. Of course we did entice them with a mention of refreshments being provided!
So the day of the webcast, the users arrived with their Androids in tow. We started the webcast with a brief info and also headed off a few comments about a server related issue. As we explained the UX team deals with the end user experience. Our entire room was on open mike, so Michelle, Jessica and Chris could hear the users’ comments. Michelle and Jessica then began to go through slides and ask the users questions about different design elements or features. Were these items something they would use or should they be configured differently? They also asked about favorite Android apps. Of course Angry Birds was mentioned! And one user said that he disliked his Android device until he installed Traveler. “I love it now – because of Traveler!”
As I sat back and watched the attendees, I was pleased to see they were all engaged. They were watching the slides and had their devices out, comparing their own user experience with what was being displayed. Then actively commenting or nodding or shaking their heads. They were participating in a very positive manner! It was not a “let’s bash the email system session.” It was “let’s share what we like or dislike in a constructive manner session.” It was interesting for me to hear how they were using Traveler as well. “I only use the calendar” or “I only use it for email.”
The user group included faculty, directors, administrators, staff, and a few techies as well. No one admitted to owning an Android tablet, but we did see a representation of the most popular Android devices on the market.
All and all it was the most positive end-user feedback session I’d had as a Notes/Domino administrator in a long time. And according to Michelle/Jessica/Chris they obtained valuable and useful feedback as well.
So the moral of the story is if you have an opportunity to work with the IBM UX team – do so! Remember that user feedback (while sometimes annoying to system administrators) is very constructive and important for the overall usability of a software product. And that it is good to gather your users together (with food of course) and allow them to share their experiences with you and each other!